See PS below
We were watching West Side Story, the 1961 movie, a couple of nights ago, and it had such an other-world feel to it. I had never sat through it before (we only made it to an old-time blockbuster movie concept, “intermission”). What was it like to be alive in 1961 when this soft, homoerotic movie (music by Leonard Bernstein) garnered ten Oscars?
Yes, I know that Spielberg is doing a remake, due to be released next year. The movie was already soft and effeminate. I can’t wait for Mr. Sappy himself to girly it up even more.
I also know it is based on Romeo and Juliet and star-crossed lovers. But I much prefer Norm MacDonald’s totally miffed wtf take on it as the SNL cast begins singing and dancing … “What are you doing?”
The whole concept of a musical is lost on some of us … I went, cluelessly it turned out, years ago to see Mamma Mia with my wife and another couple. I remember that opening scene where Amanda Seyfried skips on down to the Mediterranean and then starts singing! Good Lord! What had I gotten myself into? Later Pierce Brosnan professes his love for Meryl Streep, and it is West Side Story all over again – James Bond prostrating himself before a domineering female rather than just taking her down, no longer a man. Is he a Jet? A Cobra? A Shark? It does not matter. They easily interchange. His singing was painful to endure. He sounded like he was in labor, giving birth, the transformation complete.
What brought this on? We live in an era when gays are free to dance among us, where the concept of a manly man is considered quaint. Bruce Jenner became Caitlynn, but kept his penis. We must refer to it as “her” penis. In 1961 things were quite different, and yet this movie with all its girly men prancing about was all the rage … perhaps mostly in the entertainment business, where gay is as common as straight. It was the first big coming out.
What is different? Back then they kept it under wraps, thank you. There was a lot of winking among entertainer-types, but at least we could all pretend that Tony secretly has the hots for Maria instead of Riff.
A couple of years ago I sat waiting for a haircut – the barber is our neighbor, and we were discussing a house for sale between our properties. We considered the possibility that it might be purchased by a gay couple, and I mentioned that at least we could count on it having very nice curtains. I got the hand of disapproval, “Stop now!” Shelly, our barber friend, is all up to speed and accepts gays as human beings. Josh, a large red headed straight manly man, was sitting there too and could not suppress his laughter. Finally Shelly laughed too. It was still OK to be a little bit amused by this brave new world.
Yes, I know, gay men and women are born that way, and living in the closet is hell. I am glad they are out. Now that it is done, can we calm down? Can we cease and desist with the prancing about in our faces? I suggest the following: If you are born with a penis, I don’t care where you put it, but when you are in public, please act as if there are two sexes, one masculine, the other feminine.
Which reminds me … I was at Costco last week, and a clerk asked me if I needed assistance. He had a male voice, needed a shave, and was wearing a dress and earrings.
Norm, help me! Norm! Please rescue me! I do not belong in this era!
PS: I wish to correct any impressions left based on either prejudice or ignorance. I viewed the movie “West Side Story” as “homoerotic,” but it was pointed out to me by a commenter that Leonard Bernstein, who is widely regarding as a musical genius, wrote the music for the stage play inserting tritones (aka “The Devil’s Interval”), or notes that do not satisfy our brains need for closure when listening to music. He did this deliberately and throughout the play to accompany the script in places where the plot would not satisfy our need for resolution and good outcomes. Do read the comment in full, and if you have time, take note of the link supplied therein. Things are often deeper and more elegant than I imagine. Also, “homoeroticism” would be either in the eye of the beholder, or deliberately supplied by the director (rather than the musical composer) of the movie.